Someone was saying her name. She roused herself enough to realize that she had been hearing her name for a while now, and it was only the not-quite-gentle shaking that had finally gotten through to her. “Mmmm?” she said, or tried to, but realizing that nothing had come out she tried again. “Yes?” It came out slurred, but that was alright. Everything was alright. She waved one hand lazily, hardly disturbing the air. “Trahmsi?”
She heard the younger jánah’s sigh, and knew she was right. There was no need to go to the trouble of opening her eyes. Besides, she could see the colors better this way. Blue and green and gold, swirling together in a comfortable cloud. So pretty… she started to drift again.
“Takíza!” Another shake.
“What do you want, Trahmsi?” she grumbled, grumpy now.
“He’s safe,” the disembodied voice said. “I thought you might want to know.”
“Who?” The colors were fading, and she tried to hold them, to make them stay, but they slipped through her fingers.
“Krista. He’s back. Not a scratch on him. He’s got the luck of Mujíbh, that one.”
The colors drained into an ocean of black, and she felt herself being pulled down into it too. “That’s… that’s good. You’ve seen him?”
“Yes. He asked about you.”
“He did?” She ran her tongue along her beak. “What did he say?”
“He said…” Trahmsi hesitated. “He asked where you were, and if you were feeling a bit… fuzzy.”
“Oh.” The black surrounded her now, and began to fill her up, from talons to head. When it reached the level of her eyes, she began to cry, silently, with no force behind it. The tears were simply there. Trahmsi’s gloved hand stroked her cheek, wiping them away and smearing her make-up.
The hand stopped abruptly. “Takíza,” the little jánah said, in a much harder tone. “Has he been hitting you again?”
Takíza’s hand flew to Trahmsi’s, grabbing it and holding it tightly. Her words tumbled over each other as she opened her eyes and struggled to sit upright. “It’s alright, Trahmsi. It was my fault. I made him angry, you know how he is when he’s angry…”
Trahmsi’s hood was pushed back, her bright blue skin seeming almost to pulse in the light. Her eyes were hard and glittered as she spoke. "I will kill him myself. He has no right — " she tried to pull her hand free, but Takíza held on.
“No, don’t, it’s nothing, just a little bruise, it was an accident — " With a great effort, Trahmsi pulled away, leaving behind her glove in Takíza’s hand. “Trahmsi! No! Don’t do anything stupid!”
Trahmsi was at least a foot shorter than Takíza, but she seemed to tower over her in her rage. “Stupid? You know what’s stupid? That you let him! He doesn’t dare touch me, he knows what will happen to him, but what about Tábudh? What if he starts in on her?” She paced up and down, her tongue flicking in and out with agitation. “I should have killed him years ago, but he’s a convenient face, Amasúrah take him. They’re afraid of me, but him, him they like.” She stopped and glared down at Takíza. “You still love him.”
It wasn’t a question. Takíza nodded anyway. “By the Devah, why don’t you tell him?” Trahmsi was all but shouting. “Go back with him! He’s not married, he doesn’t have any attachments at all. I checked. Look at Teénna, she’s done well for herself. You could too!” She stopped suddenly, and dropped to her knees beside the bed. With her still-gloved hand, she stroked Takíza’s back as she sobbed convulsively into her pillow. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to shout, don’t cry, shhhhhhh…” Takíza only cried harder.
After a while, Trahmsi got up and left the room. A minute later she was back, and Takíza felt the weight of a blanket settle on top of her. A fresh pipe was pressed into her hands. She sucked at it greedily, feeling the familiar clouds start to gather. “I will never understand you,” Trahmsi whispered. Takíza could hardly hear her. Everything was turning blue and green and gold, and she was once again floating above the black ocean of sadness. There was a feather-light touch against the top of her head, and a familiar numbness — Trahmsi’s goodnight kiss. She heard her turn to go.
“Trahmsi?” she said dreamily. The footsteps stopped. “Does it hurt?”
Trahmsi came back to her side. “Does what hurt?”
“If you kissed me, really kissed me, would it hurt?”
There was a short silence, until Trahmsi finally spoke again. “Yes. Very much. Don’t even think about it.”
“Oh,” sighed Takíza. “Too bad.” The colors welled up again and swept her away.